What is a GPA and How do I Tell What Mine Is?

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

Grade Point Averages (GPAs) are often used within schools as a standard way of measuring academic achievement. They may also be used to determine scholarships, graduation honors, and other academic awards. GPAs are often the most efficient way to quantify a student’s perceived ability when it comes to academic success. Most graduate and professional schools consider GPAs when making admission decisions. Additionally, UMaine requires that a student must have a GPA of at least 2.0 in order to graduate.

GPAs are based on the number of credit hours (the number of degree credits completed in courses numbered 100 and above) in which a passing grade was earned. Each course typically ranges from 1 to 4 degree credits, which are the equivalent of credit hours. Your GPA is calculated by dividing the total amount of grade points earned by the total amount of credit hours attempted. Your grade point average may range from 0.0 to a 4.0. The grades A-F have the following numerical values used in calculating a student’s GPA: A = 4.00 A- = 3.67 B+ = 3.33 B = 3.00 B- = 2.67 C+ = 2.33 C = 2.00 C- = 1.67 D+ = 1.33 D = 1.00 D- = 0.67 F = 0.00.

If a student passes 4 – three credit classes that student has earned twelve credit hours. If he or she received 3 As and 1 C then those grades are added, together based on the values listed above, (12.0 + 12.0 + 12.0 + 6.0) for a total of 42.0. This number is then divided by the 12 credit hours for a GPA of 3.5.

Although recent studies emphasize the value of qualities such as emotional intelligence and other soft skills in determining future success, the value of a GPA is rarely something students can ignore when they first leave college. Most entry-level jobs want to see school transcripts, and employers make hiring decisions influenced in part by academic success. Of course, there will be a point at which your GPA might begin to lose its value. Over time your professional record will have to stand for itself.

But for now, as a student, your job is to make sure you are putting your best effort forward and that means keeping your GPA up. This begins by knowing what your GPA is. The easiest way to figure out your GPA here at UMaine is to go to the Student Center in your Mainestreet account and look at your Degree Progress Report or your Academic Summary. If you want to figure out what your GPA might look like at the end of the semester you can use the Semester and Cumulative GPA Calculator.

This calculator will compute your GPA for a single semester or, if you know your current GPA and total number of credits, it will compute your cumulative GPA. It is fairly self-explanatory and you can use either upper- or lower-case letters for the grades. It will also compute your new GPA after a semester’s grades, providing you know your current GPA and the number of credits you’ve taken.

For example: John took four classes last semester and his final grades have come in. He received an A in Psychology 101, a B- in Art 100, a D in Anthropology 101, and a C+ in Math 122. By filling in the corresponding letter grade with the correct amount of credit hours he can find his semester GPA by hitting the calculate button.

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He will get a message that looks like this.

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This means that his GPA for the semester is 2.49.

If this is not his first semester then he will already have an existing GPA and that can be factored with his most recent grades to arrive at his cumulative GPA. For example to calculate his cumulative GPA with the four new classes John would enter his GPA prior to this semester as well as the total number of credit hours earned prior to this semester.

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If John hits the calculate button he will see that his cumulative GPA is 2.87

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If a student has a certain goal GPA they would like to reach they can utilize the Target GPA Calculator. This calculator will tell you what GPA you will need for your next semester, year, etc. to reach a GPA goal. You just need to know your current GPA and the number of credits you’ve already completed, then choose a target GPA and a number of credits in which to attain that target!

Another useful calculator is the Course-Repeat GPA Calculator. This calculator will allow you to compute the effect of retaking a course with the new grade replacing the original one. Note: If you retake a course, do not list that course in the Cumulative GPA Calculator, this calculator will just add it as if it is a new course. To find your actual new GPA, use the Cumulative GPA Calculator inputting the non-repeated courses and then use this one to see the effect of the repeated course. Here you need to know your current GPA and the number of credits you’ve completed, and, of course, the number of credits and the two grades (as always, you can input either upper- or lower-case grades) for the course in question. Before deciding to retake a course, please review the University’s course repeat policy.

Some may argue that a good GPA is not the most important thing in life, but as a student, your GPA is a reflection of how well you manage your time, how well you follow directions, and how serious you take yourself. For student’s, school is their job, so they should make sure they are putting forth quality work. A high GPA shows a student’s ability to dedicate themselves to academic success. And let’s face it, a decent GPA is a great confidence builder!